Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Broken Code Was Literally Made with Blood, Sweat and Tears

Filmmakers Michael Girgenti and Josh Webber are proof that filmmaking is a fateful business. On paper it seems unlikely that the two would meet and become co-directors of the new film A Broken Code. Girgenti grew up in Chicago and studied music at a young age before a modeling career led him to the West Coast. Webber was born in Montreal, Canada, and after a brief stint in business school in Arizona, moved east to attend the New York Film Academy.

But ultimately the two aspiring moviemakers landed in Southern California and destiny played its hand. As Webber recounted, "Michael and I met on the set of the popular television show '90210' at Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach. We were background extras, just hanging out. And it just so happened that we were sitting next to each other."

They soon discovered that they shared common interests. Webber remarked, "We got to talking and Mike was telling me about this screenplay he had written. And over the next eight hours he just basically told me all about it as we just walked around and sat around and talked. And then over the next couple of months we met up and shaped the screenplay a little bit and then decided to shoot it."

The newfound friends co-directed Girgenti's screenplay for A Broken Code. The film about two brothers in an old-school crime family was inspired by classic movies like Goodfellas and Casino but it has a twist. "All the Italian family, mobster movies always focused on the older men," noted Girgenti,  "and there are younger people, siblings and children, in those Italian, crime oriented families but there really wasn't anything that touched on that."

The duo decided to go an unusal route and helm the film together. Webber described their collaboration, saying, "I led the direction and we would just collaborate on ideas behind closed doors and anything I may have dropped or slacked on, Mike was always there to pick it up and keep it rockin' and rollin'. It was a smooth process for us. We let each other go with the flow and move and direct as we see fit."

But it wasn't always smooth sailing. Just two days before production was supposed to wrap, there was a terrible accident that almost completely sunk the film and left Girgenti with serious injuries.

Webber recounted what happened,  "We were in New York. A friend of mine had a speedboat and we convinced him to shoot a little scene on the boat. After filming the scene, we were on our way back to the harbor to dock the boat. One thing led to the next, we were going a little too fast, and we ended up flipping the boat going roughly 80 miles an hour. Everybody was ejected. Our equipment was ruined. Michael was sent to the hospital. It was a really heartbreaking day to say the least."

Although he's fully recovered, Girgenti didn't have an easy go of it in the early days after the accident. He acknowledged, "I couldn't do too much. I couldn't fly. I couldn't lay down on my right side where they had to stick the tube in my chest because I had were a collapsed lung and I had a tube… The lung injury held me in the hospital for a week and then it took a little while to recover and I had to do all of these breathing exercises."

But as painful as it was, Girgenti maintains a sense of humor about it all. "I joke and say that I don't think my lung ever fully recovered but, I mean, I'm breathing so I'm sure it's better."

Besides the physical impact that the accident had on Girgenti, it also almost put an end to A Broken Code. Per the movie's creator and star, "Production was immediately on hold because we had to figure a lot of things out because all or our equipment was on the boat and that was all in the ocean now. And we had spent all of our money. We were at the end of the road. The day we flipped the boat was pretty much the day before the last day of completely wrapping the film. So we lost about 30 or 40% of the film. I was in the hospital and Josh was trying to scramble to figure out what we were going to do with the equipment."

Yet the determined young filmmakers weren't about to give up. "Essentially the biggest thing was, how are we going to afford to continue?" admitted Girgenti. "We ended up fundraising, successfully raising about $10,000 on Kickstarter and we just picked it up. We just felt like there's no way we could give up.  We came too far. We just put too much into it. It's funny because everybody always throws around that term 'blood, sweat and tears' but we literally lived those three adjectives."

A Broken Code is available on DVD in the U.S. and Canada and On Demand on Time Warne Cable. Learn more about the film by following it on Facebook and Twitter.

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